Save Your Breath, America!
Prevent Emphysema Now!
Emphysema develops when many of the small air sacs in the lungs are destroyed. This reduces their ability to pass oxygen into the blood and remove carbon dioxide from the blood.
Shortness of breath is the major symptom of emphysema. At first, this difficulty in breathing may occur only with heavy exercise. Later, it happens with light exercise and, still later, even when walking or engaging in other everyday activities. Do you notice that you no longer can keep up with friends your own age without getting out of breath? Do you get more tired with less exercise than you did a year ago? If so, tell your doctor about these gradual changes, and ask your doctor to check your lungs. Many people who have emphysema also have chronic bronchitis. The excess mucus produced by these inflamed airways makes breathing even more difficult.
In most cases, the lungs can take a lot of abuse. It may be 30 or more
years before someone who has emphysema notices a change in his or her
health. However, when emphysema is diagnosed early, more can be done to
treat it. By stopping smoking and using appropriate treatments or
medications, persons with emphysema can generally lead comfortable
Other conditions that can make these diseases worse are frequent colds or infections in the nose, sinus, throat, or chest. It is also known that emphysema can be hereditary. In some families this might be due to a lack of normal lung “defenses” that fight damage within the lung. It may also be because certain habits are passed along to other family members. For example, if parents smoke, there is a good chance that their children will smoke. Since more than 85% of COPD is caused by smoking, persons with family members who smoke are at greater risk of getting these diseases.